(Reuters) - The world's oldest travel firm Thomas Cook TCG.L collapsed on Monday, stranding more than half a million holidaymakers around the globe and sparking the largest peacetime repatriation effort in British history.
The ripples are set to hit the tourism sectors in Mediterranean and North African resorts, leave fuel suppliers out of pocket and further hurt British shopping streets with the closure of hundreds of travel agents.
About 50,000 tourists are stranded in Greece, mainly on its islands, Greece’s tourism minister said as extra flights were booked to ensure their smooth return home. The tourists, most of them Britons, were vacationing on the islands of Zakynthos, Kos, Corfu, Skiathos and Crete.
The head of Turkey’s Hoteliers Federation said the collapse means Turkey could see 600,000-700,000 fewer tourists annually.
Thomas Cook’s second-largest shareholder, Neset Kockar, who holds an 8% stake, said the company will be sold fully or in parts. Affiliated Turkish businesses risk losing “a few hundred million pounds” owed to it by Thomas Cook, he added.
Thomas Cook owes Tunisian hotels 60 million euros ($66 million) for stays in July and August, Tourism Minister Rene Trabelsi told Reuters on Monday, adding that 4,500 Thomas Cook customers are still in the country.
Shares in rival tour operator TUI TUIGn.DE Dart Group DTG.L which runs package holiday company Jet2holidays and budget airlines easyJet EZJ.L and Ryanair RYA.I rose as investors pinned hopes on the tour operator's closure cutting capacity in the saturated European holiday market.
As the only remaining tour operator with a significant UK retail store base and only major fully integrated European tour operator, TUI stands to gain the most, according to Citigroup analysts.
The bank reckons Thomas Cook had about 8% of the British market vs TUI’s 19% and 10% of the German market compared with TUI’s 17%. It had the biggest overlap with easyJet.
It may only be a short-term filip though - the woes that crushed Thomas Cook - from Brexit uncertainty to high fuel costs, and a fare war in Germany - will continue to haunt the holiday sector.
Aircraft leasing companies are launching moves to recover dozens of Airbus passenger planes after the collapse, market sources said.
Saga Plc, the over-50s specialist, said it was securing alternative flights, where possible, for its customers who are due to travel imminently and have been impacted by the collapse of Thomas Cook.
ON THE BEACH OTB.L:
Package holiday provider will book a one-time charge for the year as it makes alternate arrangements for passengers affected by the collapse.
The Australian company said Thomas Cook owed it approximately 27 million euros as of Sept. 23.
BOND AND SHAREHOLDERS:
Thomas Cook shares were suspended on the London Stock Exchange on Monday.
Holders of Credit Default Swaps (CDS), instruments used to insure exposure to credit, may get paid for their bets against the company. A panel of bankers will decide later on Monday.
Editing by Keith Weir and Louise Heavens
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